Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid have ‘final four’ left to secure Champions League football as he prepares for the derby with Real Madrid on Sunday.
Atletico followed a goalless draw with Granada by losing 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao last Saturday, allowing fifth-placed Real Betis to move just three points behind Simeone’s side.
La Liga champions Real Madrid won the title with four games to go thanks to a victory over Espanyol last weekend and are next for Atletico, who have lost their last eight games in all competitions. against Los Blancos.
Madrid are also on an 11-game unbeaten streak against Atletico in La Liga, their best derby against Simeone as a manager, and the Argentine knows the Rojiblancos need a result to ease the pressure.
“The reality is that we are in a decisive situation, there are four finals left,” he told reporters at a pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“We are going to face the derby in the best way, with a lot of enthusiasm and trying to evade everything that is being talked about around the situation. What worries us is the result.
“I hope the team can express themselves in the best way, that they will be strong, focused, competitive and from there good things will happen. If you show yourself strong, in the match, everything will be positive.”
Atletico have already caused a stir ahead of kick-off at the Wanda Metropolitano by confirming they won’t be offering Madrid an honor guard, with their tough response claiming the performative gesture was unnecessary.
Instead, Atletico praised their neighbors in a statement and Simeone followed suit, hailing the work of Carlo Ancelotti as he questioned the need for the media frenzy surrounding the honor guard.
“Always in this search for questions they try to stir up controversy, what he said, what he feels,” he added.
“The reality is what the club said in a statement, perfectly explained, to congratulate Real Madrid above all, the footballers and their staff because they have done a great job.
“I have great respect for Madrid, who have just become champions, but we have more respect for our people who are with us all day.”
Although Madrid have already won the title, Simeone suggested that Ancelotti won’t make many tactical changes as he prepares for a familiar Los Blancos setup.
“The structure is not going to change or the way of playing,” he continued. “Carlo is a great coach, with very clear ideas. In this case the names vary but not the tactics.”